Amazon's Lord Of The Rings Reviews Are Finally Here, Check Out What Critics Are Saying About The Fantasy Series

Morfydd Clark as Galadriel in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power on Amazon.
(Image credit: Amazon Prime Video)

Following the six Lord of the Rings movies (including the Hobbit trilogy) hitting theaters across 15 years, the world of J.R.R. Tolkien is coming to the small screen for the first time with Amazon Prime Video’s massively expensive series The Rings of Power. With the first two episodes set to premiere on Thursday, the first reviews of the new series are out. Reactions are largely positive, but it looks as though it could also be divisive among viewers overall. 

We’ll start off with the big critics of The Rings of Power, which will unfold weekly following its two-part premiere. CNN’s Brian Lowry found that the spectacle of the series did not match the story being told. In his words: 

Amazon has gotten its money’s worth in production values but not storytelling, with a handsome prequel that could leave all but the most devoted Hobbits feeling more bored than lord.

Darren Franich of Entertainment Weekly similarly did not enjoy the event series. In his review, where he gave the series a C- so far, he said that while viewers “hungry for Middle-Earth anything” will likely be satisfied, he felt The Rings of Power is doing it all wrong. His review said this: 

This series is a special catastrophe of ruined potential, sacrificing a glorious universe's limitless possibilities at the altar of tried-and-true blockbuster desperation.

Despite some negative reviews, the first reactions for the Lord of the Rings series generated a lot more positive buzz overall. The Sandman creator Neil Gaiman has also seen it and shared major “enthusiasm” about continuing with the series week by week. The Guardian’s Rebecca Nicholson said the show is “gorgeous” and “extraordinary,” and contrasted it to the recent fantasy prequel for Game of Thrones. Here’s her take: 

It is so cinematic and grand that it makes House of the Dragon look as if it has been cobbled together on Minecraft.

Fantasy fans are eating well right now! IGN’s Alex Stedman viewed the first two episodes as well and found it to be a “strong start” for the return to Middle-earth. She shared that if the first episode becomes overwhelming, the second one might better sell fans on The Rings of Power, saying this: 

While the first episode gets a little too caught up in exposition, the second is able to build on the characters and their relationships much more naturally, setting in motion a few intriguing subplots and a respectable amount of action. Through it all, it’s always well-acted by its ensemble cast and gorgeously shot and produced, with cinematography, effects, costumes, and original music that rival the biggest of big-budget movies.

The Wrap’s Joelle Monique was similarly impressed by the offering for those with an Amazon Prime subscription. In her review, she was pleased to share that the series has “charming” new characters and goes down “frightening” new paths regarding the subject of war. As written: 

Ring of Power is dense with lore and characters. Multiple viewings may be required, but it won’t be wasted time. It’s rare to feel that one is stepping into another world; the seams of our reality are frequently present. Get lost in the beauty of this series. While it may feel heavy, there is an attempt to bring in comedy and heart with the dwarves, and the writers and directors have tapped beautifully into fantasy-romance and horror to bring layers of texture to the script.

The series is set in the Second Age of Middle-earth, thousands of years before the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, taking creative liberties past Tolkien’s text. Not set in the same universe as the Peter Jackson films, the show features a massive cast, which CinemaBlend spoke to during San Diego Comic-Con. Following some early reactions, we’re even more curious to see what the discourse will be about the massive production as fans experience the new Lord of the Rings series across the next month and a half. 

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.